Almost every teacher knows how it feels to slog through mandatory professional development. All too often, irrelevant workshops are an inevitable fact of life in the one-size-fits-all world of teacher training.
As a former fourth-grade teacher, Julia Stiglitz has suffered through dull courses. And while she can’t cure the boredom of teachers who must endure subpar PD, she hopes to transform the voluntary side of PD through so-called massive open online courses (MOOCs).
“Sitting through PD that is not related to something you need to work on can be very frustrating,” says Stiglitz, director of business development and strategic partnerships for Coursera. “One of the best aspects of online PD is the ability for teachers to get information that is relevant to them–and from really strong organizations that know their content and how to deliver it.”
Some of those “really strong” universities include Johns Hopkins (MD) and Vanderbilt (TN), and the list is growing. With the help of these institutions, Coursera began offering its own approach to PD in May, so the curriculum is still very much in development. A course operations specialist with the company works directly with the university ed school partners to develop content.